Mumbai: Just think of any automobile advertisements and what do you remember? Most people recall innumerable visuals of sleek-looking cars shot from all possible angels, zooming up and down accompanied by a jingle or maybe a voice over, music, the works.
A typical lubes ad is likely to be even more uninteresting with the exception of the bizarre Castrol ad featuring David Beckham, which actually made no sense to anyone.
Now think of a petrol additives ad, and what do people think of? Till maybe a few months ago probably no commercial would have come to mind. Now many would say: "Of course, the 'Power' ad."
Power is the petrol additive launched by Hindustan Petroleum last year. It is positioned as a high-octane fuel aimed at enhancing car performance. The Power ad campaign created by Adrian Mendonza, vice-president (creative), Rediffusion DY&R, is probably the first of its kind for a product as uninspiring as petrol additives.
The ad that viewers could mistake for a film trailer is complete with male and female leading characters haring along in a red car followed by the bad guy in a helicopter and the mystical old man with flowing white beard, a la Gandalf straight out of The Lord Of the Rings. The commercial is clearly inspired by Hollywood and the intention is to grab viewers' attention instantly.
Says Mendonza: "The ad is basically a part of a campaign that includes film, radio, outdoor, press and even Internet. It has adopted a Hollywood thriller-style format to differentiate itself from the various automobile/lubes/tyre/auto accessories ads, all of which show cars zipping along roads or highways."
Mendonza's take on the current auto and auto-related advertising is that most of the commercials being aired result in an undifferentiated mass of products and create a clutter for the viewer, resulting in low viewer recall.
"The Power ad," he says, "may not have universal appeal but has high recall. Petrol additives are low involvement products since they are not used for personal consumption hence it becomes all the more difficult to create highly recallable commercials of such products. I feel that we have achieved what we set out to achieve and that has created a commercial which has a high recall and interest value.
"In spite of the fact that the petrol additive 'Power' was launched about a year ago in a print and outdoor campaign hardly anyone remembered the ad and the product. And consequently the product didn't take off as expected and the client decided to launch a film print and outdoor campaign and gave the agency the brief that the new campaign should have high recall value."
Following this when Rediffusion conceptualised the 'Power' campaign in its present form, Mendonza says, "it took us a lot to sell this film idea through the various levels of HPCL, a public sector company. After all, the ad is to sell something as mundane as petrol with no differentiator. The only differentiator could be executional."
According to him probably the client would have loved it "if we had done a safe campaign showing a car zipping down an open road. But we chose to go down a completely different route and do a commercial that does not look like an ad in the first place."
He says the ad will run for at least a year and "we don't want boredom to set in on repeated viewing. Also the need is for the ad to get talked about so that the brand at least gets recalled because nobody is really interested in petrol.
But a film trailer is followed by a film which is successful or not, hence what of the ad? He says: "The ad is part of a seven ad campaign that will have a follow-up story; so wait and see the campaign is all I can say."
According to Mendonza, the press and outdoor campaign have been woven around the film and "admittedly drives home the message more effectively once you see the commercial. The seven-part ad will work in tandem with the outdoor, TV and other in-pump activities. Everything has been done with one look and feel and all the executions are based on Hollywood film and poster art."
To give the commercial a more authentic feel of a Hollywood film, the voiceover was recorded with Ari Ross, the voice behind a majority of Hollywood film trailers. "We directed him over the speaker phone while he recorded in a studio in Los Angeles. He then sent us the material over the Net by wave files. It worked so well in the film that we persuaded the client to let us do the same when he wanted radio... and they agreed in spite of the added cost."
The ultimate test of the efficacy of any ad is sales results and, Mendonza says, HPCL has got a good response to the campaign from consumers and dealers. "Future promos for 'Power' will be offering collectible items from the film as prizes and gifts and thus will make consumers more involved with the campaign."
The 'Power' ad campaign, thereafter, will continue to be innovative and there will be surprises in store for viewers, he promises.